Ottavino and Robertson high on Red Sox bullpen wishlist
With two backend free agents in Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly, the Red Sox have found two options to potentially fill their roles.
According to a tweet from MLB Network Insider Jon Heyman, free agent relievers Adam Ottavino and David Robertson are believed to be high on the Boston Red Sox list of back-end relief options.
Both are at the top of the list of available reliever options on the free agent market, and they are likely to be courted by plenty of teams before finalizing a deal.
After resigning free agents Nathan Eovaldi and Steve Pearce, it is also likely that Boston could work out deals with Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly, as Heyman also reports is a possibility.
Other names Heyman mentioned in his tweet were Zach Britton, Andrew Miller, and Jeurys Familia.
There has been plenty of buzz around a deal between Boston and Robertson, who wants to pitch in the northeast to be closer to his home in Rhode Island. However, recent reports have shown that the Red Sox would be ‘in for less’ than the three years Robertson is reportedly asking for. Robertson’s 2018 saw him pitch 69 2/3 innings over 69 appearances, with a 3.23 ERA to go with five saves, 21 holds and a 91/26 K/BB. This was Robertson’s eighth consecutive season with an ERA under 3.50.
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As for Ottavino, this is the first real news that there is interest from Dave Dombrowski and Co. However, it shouldn’t be any surprise, as the 33-year-old was one of the best relievers in 2018. Pitching for the Rockies, Ottavino went 6-4 with a 2.43 ERA and 34 holds, which tied with Archie Bradley for the league lead. His 2.0 WAR is the highest among all current free agent relievers, and his 12.98 K/9 was second only to Kimbrel.
Both Robertson and Ottavino were setup men in 2018, pitching in front of Aroldis Chapman and Wade Davis, respectively. They both have had experience closing, and signing one of these options could be the final nail in the coffin on a potential reunion with Craig Kimbrel, who is reportedly seeking a six-year deal in free agency and could be out of Boston’s price range.
Without Kimbrel, the addition of Robertson or Ottavino could lead to a closer-by-committee situation in 2019, at least to start the season before a proper candidate emerges. Current bullpen options for the Red Sox include Carson Smith, Tyler Thornburg, Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, Brandon Workman, Heath Hembree, Hector Velazquez, Bobby Poyner, and Brian Johnson. Eduardo Rodriguez and Steven Wright could also factor into the pen if not factoring into the starting rotation, as could a resigning of Joe Kelly.
With the winter meetings ongoing, there are a number of moves Dombrowski could make to bolster Boston’s bullpen for both the immediate and long-term futures. Barnes, Hembree, Johnson, and Velazquez are the only ones signed past 2019, so adding a premium bullpen name this offseason should be on the top of the to-do list for the defending World Series Champions.